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adidas Road Running Line up review

This is an overview of the Adidas lineup. I apologize for the messiness; it is not as structured as the lineups of Mizuno, Brooks, or Hoka. I tried my best, but Adidas offers too many models with similar characteristics, totaling 32 models, which is the largest number. This makes everything too complicated. Extra thing you need to know, is that the color coding is based on my Running Shoes Classification article.

Unlike other brands, adidas has too many models with balanced characteristics. They achieve this through several different approaches. Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages. The best way to understand the differences is to first identify a perfect balance point on a map. You should be aware that this point is not achievable in real life. No brand has been able to provide exactly these characteristics. Even though we always have a model in the middle, none of them is exactly at the balance point.
After we identified a perfect balance point, let's name the shoes that are closest to it.

The first one is the Supernova Stride. It features an EVA midsole, which has good cushioning and bounce characteristics, and a small Dreamstrike+ unit in the forefoot, which gives the shoes a bit more responsiveness. The upper is made of sandwich mesh, which is not the most comfortable, but still very breathable. This combination of technologies provides great stability, responsiveness, and comfort. However, most beginners might find the EVA too stiff and less comfortable, while more advanced runners will likely appreciate its better responsiveness.

Next balanced model is ADISTAR 3. It features lighter and softer foam material – Repetitor 2.0. Such material guarantees more cushioning and comfort. To balance stability, these shoes incorporate high side walls. While upper is a soft Monomesh, which provide extra comfort. Worth noting, that previous ADISTAR had extremely stiff foam in the heel, which provided massive amount of stability and that is why previously it was Stability model, but now shifted towards balance.

The next one is the Supernova Rise. These shoes feature more bouncy foam across the entire length, called DREAMSTRIKE+. Additionally, they have more stiff foam formed into shape of rods and called Support rods. This provides more stability but reduces the bounce of the main material and makes the shoes a bit bulky. It's worth noting that the predecessor of these shoes, the Solar Glide, were stability shoes with special polyamide and EVA elements throughout. The Supernova Rise, however, is mostly balanced with a small injection of stability. This is why we keep a little bit of blue in the name to highlight it.

The final model we identify as balanced is SWITCH FWD 2. These shoes feature special engineered voids in the EVA midsole and a polyamide plate on top. The plate guarantees even pressure distribution, allowing for a decrease in the amount of material underneath it. adidas claims these voids provide forward motion, but we think this misleads consumers and hides the shoes' real advantage: comfort. The high stack and voids create an opportunity for increased compression amplitude, making the shoes very soft. While the plate ensures good stability and smooth transitions. The upper is engineered lightweight mesh with great breathability and lockdown. I believe that if these shoes were marketed as having a special cushioning system, rather than the unclear forward motion concept, they would be much more on point.

And these are all Adidas balanced models. All of them are very similar, and you might not even be able to identify the differences. It's also worth noting that all of them are exceptionally well done, each probably better than other brands' balanced models. However, Adidas faces an issue similar to a Swedish buffet. If I am offered four different five-star meals simultaneously, I might not select anything and rather go for one solid, easy-to-understand meal.

At this point, you need to know that Adidas has an impressive number of budget versions behind almost each flagship model. For example, if we reduce the bounce and increase the weight of the Supernova Stride, we get the Response Super. If we further decrease the cushioning and bounce, we get the Response. If we even further decrease the cushioning and breathability, we get the Response Runner.

The same approach exists for Adistar with Questar and Galaxy, and for Switch FWD with Switch Run and Switch Move. All of these models are still good running shoes, but they are not as fun and comfortable.

Let's come back to the Supernova Rise. If we change the shape of the stability rods to be more reinforced on the inner side, we get the Supernova Solution. This helps tackle overpronation by limiting excessive inward rolling. It works great for beginners, ensuring their unprepared legs are kept safe. However, this makes the shoes more bulky and less dynamic.
Another change to the Supernova Rise is when we increase the stack height of DREAMSTRIKE+ and the size of the support rods. This results in the Supernova Prima. This model provides significantly more cushioning and comfort, making it desirable for heavier and less prepared runners. However, experienced runners might find these shoes too heavy and less dynamic.

Now, let's come back to the Adistar. If we add an additional layer of light, soft, and bouncy LIGHTSTRIKEPRO foam, we get the Adistar Beyond. This model has significantly more cushioning and comfort. To balance the stability of such softness, these shoes feature a carbon element that wraps around and a bit in the middle to guarantee controlled transitions. This combination is amazing for securing zero pressure on your legs. You will feel relaxed and safe. However, this setup might not be ideal for race day.

Next up is the Ultraboost Light, which uses a completely different midsole material—Boost. Boost is well known for being soft and bouncy, but it is also one of the most unstable materials. In this version, adidas uses Boost Light. The weight is reduced, but the stiffness is increased. Compared to older versions, it is not as comfortable, but it is more appropriate for running. The upper is made of knit material, which increases comfort. Overall, these are great shoes with slightly increased bounciness, and that is why we mark it with yellow and increased cushioning. However, the stability is a bit less, so they are less advised for beginners.

While I appreciate the evolution of Ultraboost from the most comfortable sneakers to running-appropriate shoes, I think it doesn't make sense from a range perspective. The Ultraboost is getting closer to the balance point where we already have four shoes, while the niche of maximum comfort is now owned by other brands.

Worth noting is that Ultraboost has budget versions: Ultrabounce and Runfalcon. There is also the PUREBOOST 23, which we consider a bit separate.

Next up is the ADIZERO SL 2, which features a decreased stack height and a significant injection layer of LIGHTSTRIKE PRO, a very bouncy and light foam. This combination makes the shoes lighter and more appropriate for a fast pace. The upper is still a comfortable engineered mesh, making them good for experienced amateurs to use as training shoes. However, the amount of cushioning may not be sufficient for beginners.

These shoes also have takedowns—Duramo SL and Duramo RC. You might challenge me on marking them with a yellow color for the bounce segment. Of course, they aren't bouncy enough to fit into it. However, from a design standpoint, it looks better, so we'll keep it like this.

Next up is the ADIZERO BOSTON 12. These shoes feature a high stack height, a distinct bevel in the front, and special glass fiber rods located inside the midsole. This combination of technologies allows these shoes to activate a swing effect. Recently, I discussed this with one of you in the comments, and it seems like the term "swing" is not obvious. Let me call it the "lever effect." The principle is that the rods are curved, and if you press on the front, you get a push to the heel, just like a lever…(pause).. or swings.

On top of that, we have an extra layer of more bouncy LIGHTSTRIKE PRO foam, which makes the shoes even faster, while the lightweight mesh is still pretty comfortable. These are probably the best shoes from Adidas, however not the most stable ones.

And again, they have a budget version. It is not part of the swing segment, but i still color it in orange, because I like the way it looks on a scheme.

Now we approach the real race models from Adidas. The first one is the ADIZERO ADIOS 8. These classic shoes achieve speed due to their lightness. They feature minimal stack height, a light upper, and light midsole materials. Specifically, they use a combination of LIGHTSTRIKE 2.0 and LIGHTSTRIKE PRO. This combination ensures lightness, but the cushioning is not sufficient for most runners.

All other race models achieve speed due to the swing effect. The first one is the ADIZERO ADIOS PRO 3, featuring an increased stack of LIGHTSTRIKE PRO material, which is extremely bouncy and light. Instead of fiberglass rods, these shoes use rods infused with carbon to ensure no force is lost due to bending. The upper is extremely light, but comfort is compromised, and stability is really low.

A fun fact about these shoes is that technically, they are analogs of all other brands' fastest models, meaning they should be treated as the fastest. However, Adidas has three models that are faster than the fastest model.

The first one is the ADIZERO TAKUMI SEN 10, which features all the same technologies but with a decreased stack height. This makes them lighter, allowing you to run faster. However, the decreased cushioning is not suitable for long races, where running efficiency is more important, so they are only faster on short races.

The second one is the ADIZERO Prime X2, which explores mechanical doping. They use a double layer of rods, which is forbidden for use by pro athletes, and a 50mm stack height, also considered mechanical doping. So, from a technology standpoint, they have better running efficiency, but we will never know for sure because pro athletes do not use them.

And the third model is actually faster—the ADIZERO ADIOS PRO EVO 1. The difference in it is that Adidas applied CNC milling on the foam material. Basically, this means removing the stiff crust from the foam, retaining all the bouncy characteristics, and significantly reducing the weight. However, without the crust, the foam is very not durable. Due to the technology process, these shoes are extremely rare, and because of their low durability, they are fast in, fast out. This means almost all pairs are allocated for pro athletes, so you won't get a chance to run in them.

The three final models are 4DFWD 4, 4DFWD x STRUNG 2, and ULTRA 4DFWD. These shoes use special 3D printed technology. Adidas claims some forward motion, but that is arguable. What makes these shoes really special is the cushioning. This midsole absorbs an insane amount of shock. I would compare it to the gel from ASICS. And just like gel, it has zero bounce. So, it's a combination not for running, but amazing for daily life.

And that's it. All models are mapped, all models are explained. Trail running models are not included here because they have a special segmentation, which will be covered in a separate video.